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Game Design School - STORY IN GAMES

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STORY IN GAMES

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After this page:
  • You understand how a story is told in a game
  • You understand the difference of a story in a movie or in a game
  • You should realise that the space for the story is very limited in games



Story In Games
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STORY - WHAT STORY

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  • In a game we can't force the story
  • Player might skip or ignore the ways we use
  • Mandatory cutscenes might just don't work
  • Story can often be more "on the side" and integrated inside the game world
  • Games are interactive
  • Player might not want to read

GAMES VS MOVIES

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story_in_movie_vs_game.jpg

STORY IN A GAME AND STORY IN A MOVIE

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Story in a movie.

  • Most often you look at 3rd person view<
  • You look at what others do and do nothing
  • You pause it and it will be the same every time after you press play

Story in a game.
  • Can also be viewed from 1st person
  • You're the centre of the action
  • You make the decisions
  • Interactive world
  • You affect the game world
  • Player can save & load
  • HUD - head-up display
  • Freedom of choice during gameplay

GAME AND MOVIE STORYLINES

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game_and_movie_storyline.jpg

SIMILARITIES

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  • Hero's path
  • Aristotle's
  • Characters are important

  • FIND THE STORY

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    Before we continue think about where games show you the story. Identify the places and write them down.

    WHERE IS THE STORY

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    Like mentioned the story can't be forced. We need to place it to places where player will most likely get at least something of it and a bit all around.
    Here places where you'll find story:

  • Intro
  • Cutscenes
  • Tutorial
  • Loading screens
  • NPCs - non-player characters
  • Setting, background
  • Audio
  • Feedback
  • Help
  • Names
  • All UI screens, confirmations
    And some powerful places for it
  • Briefing
  • Mission objectives - you can tell the whole story with mission objectives
  • Gameplay events
  • Characters

  • COMMON DESIGNER PROBLEM WITH STORY

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    Very often I see a story added to the game. But the story describes events that happen before the game, not during the game. To make the story and game work together, make the story events happen during the game! Make the game trigger the events in the game!

    WHY HAVE A STORY?

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    • Bring it alive!
    • Introduces the setting
    • Creates the mood
    • Helps to create the power-ups, weapons
    • Solves the visualisation and function question
    • Helps to create Characters
      - Gives them reasons
      - Answers how to dress them, where to meet them
    • Motivates and hooks the player
    • Can introduce a surprise!
    • Must match the game and be logical

    WHERE GAMES COULD IMPROVE

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    • Games don't show change in characters well like inner conflict... and change in protagonist...
    • Where is the drama…?
    • Subtext not well done or doesn't work…
    • NPCs don't feel real...
    • "You know more than the actors" doesn't happen like in movies...
    • Stories are quite linear... since player needs to get to a point to advance…


    TETRIS SAMPLE - STORY IN TETRIS Tetris Game Design Examples

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    Could Tetris have a story? Yes, it could. The story could be about building a city, a forest or even robots or cars. The theme and setting will affect the story and the other way around. 

    The story needs progress during the game, not happen before the game.

    Where will the story be told? Probably for Tetris in the popups before a game starts, in loading screens, in the level objectives and score cards.




    EXERCISE: CHANGE THE STORYLINE

    Exercise xxxTITLExxx
    Easy - 1-2h.




    EXERCISE: INTRO

    Exercise xxxTITLExxx
    Hard - 1-2h.